Lecture Series

Unless otherwise noted, all lectures take place in Room 13 of the Villa Rossa, Piazza Savonarola, n. 15. Lectures begin at 6:25pm and are followed by a light reception.


Fulvio Orsitto

Imagining the Mezzogiorno: Old and New Paradigms

The three sections of this lecture will examine filmic representations of the Mezzogiorno (aka the Italian South) in Italian cinema. The first one provides a theoretical framework that contextualizes the so-called questione meridionale (“Southern Question”) and the North/South dichotomy that has characterized Italy since its unification in 1861. The second offers an overview of filmic representations of the Mezzogiorno from the early days of the cinema until 1989. The third focuses on more contemporary cinematic portrayals of the South, suggesting that by acquiring a new gaze on their “internal Other,” Italians may develop a better awareness of the country as a whole, and obtain a new perspective on Mediterranean otherness as well.

Fulvio S. Orsitto is Director of the Georgetown University campus in Fiesole (Italy). He previously worked as Director of the California State University Study Abroad program in Florence. He holds a Ph.D. in Italian Cultural Studies from the University of Connecticut (2008) and has published numerous essays and book chapters on Italian and Italian American cinema, and on Italian Literature. His book publications include the edited volumes L’Altro e l’Altrove nella cultura italiana (2011) and Cinema e Risorgimento: Visioni e Re-visioni (2012). In 2012 he co-edited with Simona Wright Vol. XXXIV of the NeMLA Journal of Italian Studies, a special issue devoted to Contemporary Italian Cinema. In 2014 he has published with C. Peralta and F. Caramaschi the manual Film and Education. Capturing Bilingual Communities. More recently, he co-edited the following volumes: Contaminazioni culturali (2014 – with S.Wright) Pier Paolo Pasolini. Prospettive americane (2015 – with F. Pacchioni), Attraversamenti culturali (2016 – with S. Wright), TOTalitarian ARTs: The Visual Arts, Fascism(s), and Mass-Society (2017 – with M. Epstein and A. Righi), and Boom… e dintorni (2019 – with Inge Lanslots, Lorella Martinelli, and U. Perolino).


Tony Barber

Dialogue on Today Europe, the Brexit, Populism and the economic crisis

Tony Barber is Europe Editor and Associate Editor at the Financial Times in London. He joined the newspaper in 1997 and served as bureau chief in Frankfurt (1998-2002), Rome (2002-2007) and Brussels (2007-2010).

He started his career in 1981 at Reuters news agency, serving as a foreign correspondent in New York, Washington and Chicago (1982-83), Vienna (1983), Warsaw (1984-85), Moscow (1985-87), Washington (State Department correspondent, 1987-88) and Belgrade (bureau chief, 1989).

He worked from 1990 to 1997 at The Independent in London, where he was successively East Europe Editor and Europe Editor.

Among the major world events on which he has reported on the ground are the 1986 Chernobyl accident, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the fall of eastern European communism in 1989, the 1991-95 wars of the Yugoslav succession, the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005 and the Eurozone crisis.

He studied from 1978 to 1981 at St John’s College, Oxford University, where he received a BA First Class Honours degree in Modern History. He was born in 1960 in London.


Teresa Lin and Marco Wong

A conversation with two members of the Chinese-Italian  community in Prato

Marco Wong is a Chinese-Italian entrepreneur based in Prato and just elected member of Prato city council.

Teresa Lin is a young Chinese-Italian woman, who studied first in Prato and then in the US and is now working for a family business. She too has just been elected member of Prato city council.

The Tuscan city of Prato has the highest proportion of Chinese immigrants of any Italian province; in fact, the provinces of Florence and Prato host 18.6% of all Chinese citizens regularly residing in Italy. This community embodies therefore a very interesting political and social experiment regarding the levels of integration of the Chines community with the social and economic fabric of Prato’s industrial district. The size of the Chinese migration to Italy has seen an exponential growth and it represents today the third most numerous foreign community in the whole country.

Through a conversation with Teresa Lin and Marco Wong, we will try to understand better how the two cultures have been able to build a dialogue, to what extent the culture brought over by Chinese immigrants  mingles with local mentality and business and what are the challenges that Prato and all its citizens will deal with today and in the future.


Charles Spence

Gastrophysics: The new science of eating

Gastrophysics, the new science of eating, focuses attention on ‘the everything else’ apart from the food that nevertheless still influences the tasting experience, be it in the high-end restaurant or the home: Everything from the colour of the plate on which the food is served, through the weight of the cutlery that is used to consume it (assuming that there is any, which can’t always be guaranteed these days), not to mention the music that happens to be playing in the background. Gastrophysics aims to bring the scientific approach, inspired by the latest neuroscience insights concerning the multisensory integration of the cues from taste, smell, touch, sight and sound, together with the best in culinary artistry, in order to help design more engaging, more enjoyable, and more memorable experiences for diners in the future.

Charles Spence is a world-famous experimental psychologist with a specialization in neuroscience-inspired multisensory design. He has worked with many of the world’s largest companies across the globe since establishing the Crossmodal Research Laboratory (CRL) at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University in 1997. Prof. Spence has published over 900 academic articles and edited or authored, 12 books including, in 2014, the Prose prize-winning “The perfect meal”, and the recent international bestseller “Gastrophysics: The new science of eating” (2017; Penguin Viking) – winner of the 2019 Le Grand Prix de la Culture Gastronomique from Académie Internationale de la Gastronomie.

Much of Prof. Spence’s work focuses on the design of enhanced multisensory food and drink experiences, through collaborations with chefs, baristas, mixologists, chocolatiers, perfumiers, and the food and beverage, and flavor and fragrance industries. Prof. Spence has worked extensively in the world of multisensory experiential wine and has also worked extensively on the question of how technology will transform our dining/drinking experiences in the future.

See short video at: Charles Spence – Sensploration (FoST 2016). https://vimeo.com/170509976.

And profile at: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/11/02/accounting-for-taste.

“The Perfect Meal” | Talks at Google: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgUVjKsP_wc

Spence Going Underground TV https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56e5UZJreg0


Ross King

Leonardo’s Monsters

Leonardo da Vinci famously concerned himself with the rules of beauty, geometry and proportion. However, his drawings and writings also show an interest in the ugly and the disproportionate, including grotesques, giants and monsters. This illustrated lecture will examine what this fascination with the misshapen and the fantastic tells us about Leonardo’s theories of reason, imagination and art.

Ross King is the author of six books on Italian, French and Canadian art and history. He has also published two novels and edited a collection of Leonardo da Vinci’s fables, jokes and riddles. His most recent book is Leonardo and The Last Supper, which looks at Leonardo’s work at the court of Milan in the 1490s.